Will Teko turn the corner?

Midfield star Teko Modise of Bafana Bafana and Orlando Pirates fame admits he is not having a good season, but is determined to use Saturday’s meaningless 2010 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier away to Equatorial Guinea to help him turn the corner.

Kick-off is at 5pm South African time.

As neither side can qualify for the next round of qualification for the 2010 showpiece in Angola, the match is academic. But for Bafana and Modise, it is an opportunity to get his career back on track.

Modise has found the going tough in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) where he has found it hard to dictate games. This is one of the reasons behind Pirates’ early-season slump. Bucs have not won a league match in their four fixtures played so far and scored only one goal and collected two points.

Modise is the first to admit things need to improve, including his own form.

Said Modise before the Bafana squad jetted to Equatorial Guinea on Thursday: ”It has been a difficult period for me, especially in the PSL where I have been marked out of games. I realise what is happening and now need to use this opportunity against Equatorial Guinea to rediscover my form.

”The fact that clubs mark me tightly means I have to find answers and quickly. By closing me down they stop me playing and that affects the team’s performance.”

What Modise is hoping for is a free run in midfield against the no-name-brand amateurs from Equatorial Guinea who are unlikely to have a game plan to stop the diminutive midfield powerhouse from playing his normal game.

Modise made his 25th appearance and was named captain of the PSL Bafana squad that scored an easy 3-0 win over Malawi in a friendly international at the Germiston Stadium last Tuesday.

”That win, although against a small country, was a big boost for me and the players as we played well and managed to score three goals. We need to continue from there against Equatorial Guinea. We gained a lot from that match and showed that our biggest problem — scoring goals — can be overcome.”

Modise still has hopes of playing in Europe. ”I will not be moving from Pirates until the end of the season. But I would still love to further my career at some stage.”

He knows little about Equatorial Guinea other than the experience in June when Bafana completely outplayed the West Africans 4-1 at the Super Stadium to record their only win in Group Four. All that is at stake on Saturday is pride and who will finish bottom of the group.

Modise and his teammates know they have much to redeem under coach Joel Santana. Since the Brazilian coach took charge in June, Bafana have dropped to their lowest Fifa ranking to date — 85th.

His teammate Bryce Moon is looking forward to the clash. The talented defender, who joined Greek champions Panathinaikos from Ajax Cape Town in the off-season, says his career has taking off in Europe and he hopes to bring back his club form to Saturday’s clash if selected.

Moon said playing in the European Champions League was a tremendous experience for him. ”It was a good move joining Panathinaikos. Playing in the Champions League has been incredible despite the fact we have lost both games. It is a huge learning curve.”

He stressed that Bafana need to take the Equatorial Guinea match by the scruff of the neck. ”We must finish the qualification programme with a victory. Pride is at stake after the disappointment of failing to qualify for the 2010 Afcon tournament.”

Santana, who has been criticised for his lack of international experience and failure to speak English, got the backing of some of his senior players ahead of Saturday’s showdown. The players put on a united front saying that they understood the coach’s plans and that they were determined to make amends.

Striker Benni McCarthy, who failed to fire in the 1-0 loss to Group Four leaders Nigeria in Port Elizabeth in September, is due a goal while the likes of Bernard Parker, Terror Fanteni and Katlego Mashego will be asked to support the veteran Blackburn Rovers striker.

The squad return home on Sunday and travel to Bloemfontein on Monday where they play Ghana in a friendly on Wednesday night. — Sapa

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